World ‘does not have capacity’ to respond to this pandemic or the next, major report warns

This includes filling in gaps in the global disease surveillance system, building a stronger WHO and establishing a permanent structure to fund development of and access to medical countermeasures.

However, while the report shines a spotlight on strategies to strengthen pandemic preparedness, the authors say their primary aim is to galvanise action. They lay out an ambitious timeline for reforms over the next year, starting at the World Health Assembly – the decision-making body of the WHO – in November. 

Speaking at a panel event at the summit on Monday, Sir Jeremy, director of Wellcome, urged countries to change their thinking – from focusing on preparing for new pathogens to preventing their spread once they jump to humans. 

A ‘very, very short’ window for reforms

But he warned that the window of opportunity to instigate reforms will be closed before the end of next year, at the latest.

“After every single epidemic there have been the most worthy, well written reports of what should be done – perhaps most notably, of course, after Ebola in West Africa,” he said. “How many of those reforms ever actually happened? The reality is very few, if any.

“The reason, I think, is that… attention moves on, and attention particularly moves on when more powerful, richer countries feel they’re moving on from it. And in capitals of rich countries around the world you can almost feel that has already started, the pandemic for them is going into a different era. 

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